Sunday, June 1, 2008

Review of Series 4, Episodes 6, 7, and 8: "The Doctor's Daughter," "The Unicorn and the Wasp," and "Silence in the Library"

While traveling around England and Wales, I did manage to see Episodes 6 and 7, although I didn't have time to blog my thoughts on them.  There was something very cool about actually watching the episodes with the rest of the UK on the BBC as they aired on Saturday evening.  As I watched, I imagined all the other people in their homes up and down the street, watching the show at the same time.  There's something to be said for the collective experience, I guess (especially for a sci-fi show that is so marginalized in the US).  Aside from that, though, I really don't have much to say about either of the episodes; so, they'll each get a paragraph before I tackle last night's episode.

Episode 6, "The Doctor's Daughter," was pure crap from start to finish.  Playing like really bad fan fiction, it made me feel slightly embarrassed to be a Doctor Who fan.  The ending was a total cop-out and I hope we never see The Doctor's "daughter" again.  (As an aside, there's a rumor floating around the net that she died in the original script -- until Steven Moffat requested that she survive.  Although I am supremely excited by the news that Moffat will be taking over as show runner after Russell T. Davies steps down, I really hope he doesn't bring this particular character back....  Still, if there's anyone who could make me like her, it'd probably be Steven Moffat!)

Episode 7, "The Unicorn and the Wasp," on the other hand, was enjoyable and fun, although certainly not revolutionary.  I loved how it established a very Agatha Christie-like set-up (the secluded house in the country, the suspicious guests, the recurring murders) and then worked its way through the genre conventions while still staying true to Doctor Who as well.  Fenella Woolgar did a great job as Ms. Christie, bringing an air of authenticity to the role, and Donna's excitement for the time period was infectious.  The bit where The Doctor explained how the murders occurred and who committed them while Donna tried to keep up with his logic was great.  Okay, the giant bee/wasp alien was kind of stupid, but at least it made for a cool title when combined with the thief known as The Unicorn.

Now on to the main event -- Episode 8, "Silence in the Library."  Steven Moffat has done it again!  The man who brought us all of the best episodes not written by Paul Cornell over the past 3 years returns with part one of what should be a really nice two-parter.  The opening sequence with the little girl explaining her dreams was a creepy and intriguing way of drawing the audience in, surprising us with the last second appearance of The Doctor and Donna.  I love it when writers open with a "normal" point of view character who then discovers The Doctor and his companion; it reminds us of how strange and, well, alien The Doctor is when first encountered.  Of course, in this episode, the little girl is anything but normal.  Apparently, she is the computer brain of a planet-sized library!  As a voracious reader and a wannabe writer, I have to applaud that idea!  All is not ideal in the giant library, however, as The Doctor and Donna discover when they realize that they are the only living creatures on the planet.   As usual, The Doctor knows more than he has revealed, admitting that he purposefully lead them to the library in response to a mysterious message that he received via his psychic paper.  Who sent him this message?  And why?

The why is revealed early on -- the library has been invaded by the Vashta Nerada, voracious alien critters that like to dine on living flesh and create shadows wherever they go.  The who, on the other hand, is kept a little more mysterious.  Yes, we know that the message was sent by Professor River Song (played by ER's Alex Kingston).  We also know that she has gotten to know and travel with The Doctor in her past but his future.  What we don't know, however, is whether "River Song" is her real name and what, exactly, her relationship with The Doctor was/will be.  She has a sonic screwdriver of her own (unless she has The Doctor's sonic screwdriver) and she seems to be in love with our favorite Gallifreyan Time Lord.  These facts bring up several questions.  If she and The Doctor were in love (or even married), then why isn't she still with him?  And, if The Doctor allowed her to get THAT close to him, is she human?  Or is she, just maybe, Gallifreyan?  I think we can all see what I'm getting at -- could Professor River Song be Romana?  She said that she had never seen The Doctor so young before, which would be true if she was referring to Tom Baker's 4th Doctor or David Tennant's 10th Doctor a few years later.  She said that she lead the investigative team to the library planet, but she never specified how.  TARDIS, maybe?  Since we lsat saw Romana as Lalla Ward, Alex Kingston could represent her next regeneration (hence The Doctor not recognizing her).  Also, given the rumors that Lalla Ward was on set when her husband, Richard Dawkins, filmed his cameo for later this season, perhaps she made a cameo of her own.  Regeneration flashback, maybe?  Just theories!

Given my enthusiasm for the most recent episode, you can probably surmise that I'm anxiously awaiting next week.  Even if Professor River Song doesn't end up being a regenerated Romana, I am sure that Mr. Moffat has some cool surprises in store for us.


Beck said...

I totally agree with you that episodes have gotten better. "The Unicorn and the Wasp" was finally what I've been wanting to see out the Doctor. And same goes for this current two parter.

On a side note, I love how they call the one guy "Other Dave," and "OD" is played by this guy that was on quarterlife (as I think I'm the only person who watched that crappy show).

Also, I finished your Adipose. Cross blogging will begin soon!

Doctor What said...

Oh, I can't wait to see Addy!

I also liked the Other Dave and Proper Dave thing (although I don't know anything about Quarterlife). I am really excited for part two of the Library story.

Stef said...

Ugh, "Doctor's Daughter" was awful, and Martha's acting was the worst! That whole scene where she's upset about her fishy friend dying was the worst case of fake crying I have ever seen. We still haven't seen the first half of the library story; since it's a two parter maybe we can watch them all at once.